Writers in the Hemingway Tradition

If you’re watching Lynn Novick and Ken Burns’ documentary Hemingway this week on PBS, you’ve heard a lot of writers and commentators talking about what a profound influence Ernest Hemingway has had on American literature. As the writer Tobias Wolff puts it, “It’s hard to imagine a writer today who hasn’t been in some way influenced by him. It’s like he changed all the furniture in the room, right? And we all  have to sit in it. We can kind of sit on the armchair, or on the arm…” No matter how you may feel about the man (or mansplainer, philanderer and self-mythologizer), there’s no denying that Hemingway the writer originated an oblique, minimalist style that has cast a long shadow over our literary landscape.

Among his near contemporaries, many authors in the genres of hardboiled crime and noir adopted a similar colloquial, hardbitten style. Try reading James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice and see if you don’t fine a spiced up version of Hemingway’s understated prose from the very first line: “They threw me off the hay truck about noon.” Other classic noir writers of the 1930s and 1940s, such as Cornell Woolrich or William Lindsay Gresham, reveal a similarly uncompromising, clipped style that is still found in many hardboiled writers – such as Elmore Leonard – today. Continue reading “Writers in the Hemingway Tradition”

The Vietnam War: Essential Accounts

There is no single story of the Vietnam War. In our second of four lists commemorating the premiere of Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s ten part documentary series on the Vietnam War, we feature twenty-five memoirs and personal accounts of the War and its aftermath, representing a wide array of experiences and voices. Here are some highlights.

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The Vietnam War: Essential History

As our city and our nation tunes in to the premiere presentation of Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s ten part documentary series on the Vietnam War, interest is spiking in books and films that explore the War and the era from all angles. In the first of a four part series featuring lists including one hundred works of history, memoir, fiction and film, we suggest some of the best historical overviews of the Vietnam War.

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